US, Russia, Iran draw new red lines in Syria

US, Russia, Iran draw new red lines in Syria”

The U.S. military confirmed a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian SU-22 on Sunday, after it dropped bombs near the U.S. partner forces known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Some of those warnings were not heeded, and have resulted in US airstrikes against pro-regime militias, including the downing of the Iranian Shaheed-129 drone and the Syrian Su-22 on Sunday.

Despite that shift, however, administration officials have not made clear the full objectives of US policy or its limits.

It is the fourth major confrontation between Syrian and pro-regime militias over the past several weeks, and the second aircraft downed by coalition fighters. "And what do adversaries do when there's ambiguity?"

"The escalation of hostility among all the factions that are operating there doesn't help anybody", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday.

A day after a US Navy fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane, Russia says it has stopped using a key communication channel set up to avoid conflict between US and Russian forces in Syria.

Russian Federation has been providing air cover for Bashar Al-Assad's troops since 2015 and have deployed its advance S-400 Growler air defence system in the Latakia Airbase on the Syrian coast. Analysts say that more robust U.S. military action in Syria since President Donald Trump took office in January has resulted from his decision to give the military more autonomy in how it pursues the war on Islamic State. The collapse of the ISIS militants holding the town followed clashes between the Syrian regime and U.S. Kurdish allies at a nearby village. Despite having the backing of the USA, the YPG seems to be forcing its limits too. Previously, it has been providing crucial support to Assad's forces.

It's believed to be the first time in nine years that "a USA combat aircraft has shot down a manned enemy aircraft in aerial combat", The Aviationist reports. Clashes between the Kurdish-led SDF and Syrian forces have been rare and some rebel groups have even accused them of coordinating on the battlefield.

As it tries to craft a Syria strategy, the Trump administration is divided between those who consider Islamic State the primary enemy and some officials who think the war in Syria is part of an existential struggle between the United States and its Gulf allies on the one hand and Iran on the other, said a third USA official, who has participated in government deliberations on Syria.

Their advance prompted Damascus and its allies to step up their own operations in the two provinces.

While the USA military's shootdown of a Syrian jet on Sunday was a rarity in modern warfare, the first in 18 years, it was not an isolated incident.

On multiple occasions, the USA has used the line to warn pro-Syrian regime forces to stay at arm's length from US and partner forces operating near Raqqa and Tabqa cities, as well as those operating near a USA training facility for anti-ISIS forces in Tanf, on the border with Iraq in southeastern Syria.

The missile attack came amid recent confrontations in Syria between US -backed forces and Iranian-backed pro-government factions.

"These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria", the USA military said in a release. That prompted a U.S. F/A-18 fighter jet to shoot it down - the first air-to-air kill by US forces in two decades.

"The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat", according to a CENTCOM statement issued after the downing of the Syrian jet Sunday.

That was the same reason given for launching three airstrikes against forces loyal to Assad in the town of Tanf, farther south along the Iraqi-Syrian border, where US forces train Syrian rebels at a small military base.

Tensions escalated on Sunday as the USA military brought down a Syrian military jet near Raqqa for bombing near US -allied forces on the ground, the first time Washington had carried out such an action in the multi-pronged civil war.

Meantime, Assad's forces have repeatedly tested the see how much they can get away with. Meanwhile, Iran's missile attack, which it said was in response to the Islamic State's recent raid on the parliament building in Tehran, was a bold assertion of its willingness to escalate militarily in Syria and maybe elsewhere in the region.

Jennifer Cafarella, of the Institute for the Study of War, said the USA strikes are unlikely to deter Assad and his backers. "That cedes the rest of Syria to the regime and its partners to do what they want".

Like Obama, Trump has focused on Islamic State, leaving for later the question of Assad's fate and the region's mangled alliances. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the United States was working to restore a "deconfliction" communications line with Russian Federation meant to avoid an accidental clash over Syria.

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